Posted by: davidrcollier | July 14, 2009

The Media & Al Gore

As we saw in class, the media’s treatment of Sarah Palin fits the history of the press in US history. It can be compared to attacks during the partisan press era, including attacks on George Washington, the overwhelming attacks on William Jennings Bryan in 1896, the coverage of FDR, Carter etc.

This article talks about the negative attacks that Al Gore received from the press which may provide some added context for the supposed media bias.

The Press v Al Gore – how lazy reporting, pack journalism and GOP spin cost him the election

Some excerpts:

The coverage was at times blatantly dishonest, and, worse, reporters seemed so determined to stick to pre-assigned scripts (“Gore is a phony”) that they balked at correcting obvious errors that began to circulate.

Recalls one network-television correspondent who spent lots of time on the presidential campaign, “There just developed among a certain group of people covering Gore, particularly the print people, a real disdain for him. Everything was negative. They had a grudge against [Gore]. I don’t know how else to put it.”

Last year, a review conducted by two nonpartisan groups, Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Research Center, found that a stunning seventy-six percent of the Gore campaign coverage in early 2000 centered around two negative themes: that he lies and exaggerates, and that he’s tarred by scandal. “We call it the metanarrative,” says Tom Rosenstiel, director of Project for Excellence in Journalism. “Journalists are looking for a story line, a narrative device, that plays out over weeks and months, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is if they let the narrative overwhelm the facts, then it becomes a distorting lens. It can lead journalists to ignore and mischaracterize facts as they try to fit them into the story.”

Did bad press cost Al Gore the election last year? It’s naive to think Gore’s chronically caustic coverage didn’t cause him to lose votes during a historically close election.


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